Identity, Israel

Admissions Racism

Yeah, our parents had to deal with Jewish quotas at Ivy League schools, and we all heard rumors about Princeton, but it seems that in the Jewish state, our admissions offices have found a way to get back. Haaretz reports about a new policy at Tel Aviv University’s medical school. Beginning next year, the school will only admit students older than twenty.
Sounds like a bright policy, after all, according to the people at the medical school, medicine is a profession that requires maturity and experience in order to deal daily with patients. However, a quick look at the student population in Israel explains a lot. Most Jewish college students are at least twenty years old, having graduated high school and completed some form of national service. There are two significant populations that are younger in the universities, the Arab students, and those who are in a special army program called Atuda, where first you learn and then you serve. Not surprisingly, TAU’s new policy doesn’t affect those doing Atuda.
Perhaps most unfortunate is that the only ones complaining are the Arab MKs, and the Arab student committee at the school. Where is Meretz, where is Labor, where is the rest of Israel? Forget about them, where is the TAU student government that is constantly threatening to go on strike?

6 thoughts on “Admissions Racism

  1. A bit off topic, but…
    When a family member applied to Princeton in the 1960s, he asked his most-definitely-not-Jewish interviewer about those “rumors about Princeton.”
    The interviewer’s response: “When my father went to Princeton, they didn’t allow Jews in the eating clubs. When I was at Princeton, Jews were members of every eating club. Today, many eating clubs have Jewish presidents.” And that was in the 1960s.
    Once upon a time, Princeton was far from a beacon of racial or religious tolerance. Blacks weren’t admitted until well into the 20th century. Protestant morning prayers in the chapel were mandatory through the 1950s. And women weren’t admitted until the end of the 1960s.
    But by the early 1970s, when Princeton was fully coed, any Jewish quotas that might have existed were gone. And there are no racial or religious quotas today (despite the claims of a certain Yalie who was also rejected by Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Penn).
    Like almost every campus, Princeton today has a problem with self-segregation. And Princeton may not have as large a Jewish population as some other Ivies. But it’s a thriving, diverse community with all flavors of Judaism represented, and Jews do not face discrimination on campus. Having gone there and loved just about every minute of it, in my opinion Princeton simply needs more strongly-identifying Jews (like the ones who write and read Jewschool) to apply in the first place. Please don’t speak of “rumors about Princeton” as if they might somehow still have some sort of effect. Because the only effect they have is to discourage some great candidates from applying to the school.

  2. themicah
    Thank you very much for your comment and the reproof. My intention in this post was anything but to accuse Princeton of racist or anti-semitic policies. I too have only heard good things from friends who have learned there. My use of it was only to show how we do the same things that we perceive are done to us. To any extent that I helped to spread baseless myths, I apologize.

  3. Absolutely no apology necessary, as I didn’t think your intention was perpetuating rumors.
    It’s just that when I was a student there, we had a small committee at the Hillel that found that because of these ancient rumors, there were actually still guidance counselors at some day schools who steered their smartest students away from Princeton because “Princeton wasn’t a good place for Jews.” And I want to make sure that if some high school kid googles “Princeton and Jews” a year from now, she sees some comments about how it is in fact a great place for Jews (and Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Bahais, Hindus, Wiccans, atheists and anyone else who wants a great education).

  4. “Where is Meretz, where is Labor, where is the rest of Israel?”
    Well, according to this piece ( in today’s Haaretz, they’re busy trying to fix it.
    Tamir calls meeting over minimum age at TAU medicine faculty
    By Tamara Traubmann
    Education Minister Yuli Tamir requested yesterday that all medical faculty heads convene for an urgent meeting concerning claims of discrimination against Arab applicants.
    The claims follow the decision by the Tel Aviv University medicine faculty to accept only candidates who are 20 years old or older, as reported yesterday in Haaretz. All Arab medical students currently studying at TAU enrolled before they were 20.
    The new age limitation does not apply, however, to soldiers who have postponed their military service until they complete degrees. These students are predominately Jewish. Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva has had a similar age limitation since 1974. It, too, does not apply to soldiers.
    MK Azmi Bishara (Balad) requested the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee hold an urgent discussion on the decision, which he calls “blatant discrimination against the Arab population.”
    Shbat shalom
    Hagay Hacohen
    Young Meretz

  5. I think the fact that you chose to refer to “_our_ admissions offices” speaks louder than anything else you said your post, and also offers part of the explanation of why such a policy might be adopted.

  6. Eyal, there is a lot to that little comment of yours to think about. You might very well be right.

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